Elvis Presley, the King of Rock ’n’ Roll, is one of the most famous pop culture icons of all time. Though he died in 1977, conspiracy theories abound about how he may have faked his own death. And some of his fans are so devoted they might just choose to believe them. However, should he ever make an unlikely return, he might have some explaining to do about the seedier aspects of his personality and career. Because Elvis had a darker side, and these 20 little-known secrets might make you reconsider everything you previously thought about him.
20. He slept with a lot of underage girls
Though Elvis wasn’t the only singer of his era who slept with an underage fan, he seemed to find young teenage girls especially fascinating – something that his friends found alarming. And of course he met his only wife, Priscilla, when she was 14 and he 24.
19. He was terrified of germs
In 2015, Priscilla Presley revealed a secret about her ex-husband to talk show host Jonathan Ross: he was a germophobe. He didn’t even like using cutlery that wasn’t new. “I think he just didn’t like to put his mouth where other people put their mouth,” Priscilla explained.
18. At the height of his fame, critics compared him to Hitler
When Elvis shot to fame in the 1950s, the older generation had no idea what to make of his sexualized dance moves and army of fans. So they fell back on hyperbole. Anonymous psychologists compared Elvis’s rock performances – and the teenage girls who loved them – to Hitler’s rallies.
17. He was extremely irresponsible with guns
Elvis loved guns – he owned loads of them. Unfortunately, he was far from a responsible owner. Tom Jones once apparently discovered a gun that Elvis had casually discarded in a dressing room bathroom. A girlfriend, Ginger Alden, also says he fired at a TV in a fit of pique.
16. He even once discharged a gun at Alden
Elvis soon graduated from shooting at objects to shooting at people. In her memoir about her time with Elvis, Ginger Alden wrote that he once shot a bullet into their headboard while she slept. He called it “an attention getter” although these days police and lawmakers would probably call it something else.
15. He allegedly wouldn’t sleep with women who’d had children
According to Priscilla Presley, Elvis had a major hang-up about sleeping with women who were mothers. “[He] had mentioned to me before we were married that he had never been able to make love to a woman who had a child,” she wrote in her 1985 memoir. Eventually that included her, too.
14. His teachers thought he had no talent for music
When Elvis was at school, nobody guessed what the future held for him. In the eighth grade he was awarded a C in music, and his music teacher told him he couldn’t sing. So, he sang “Keep Them Cold Icy Fingers Off Me” to her, and she admitted that maybe he could.
13. He liked disguising himself as a policeman
Elvis loved to collect imitation police badges, but his interest in law enforcement went further than that. According to Priscilla Presley, Elvis would sometimes dress as a policeman, stop speeding cars, and give the driver a “ticket” – his autograph. Harmless, maybe, but definitely illegal.
12. He never saw Priscilla without makeup on
Among the many strange things about Elvis’s marriage was that Priscilla always had to wear cosmetics. He hated her being less than perfect. “I always had a little bit of makeup,” she said on Loose Women in 2016. “He never wanted to see me getting dressed, he wanted to see the end result.”
11. In his later years, he could barely eat
In 2016, Elvis’s stepbrother David Stanley published a memoir detailing the King’s final years. It wasn’t pretty. Elvis was taking so many drugs at the time that he would often fall asleep mid-meal and choke on his food, and Stanley would have to physically extract it from his throat.
10. He wore high collars to hide his “chicken neck”
Elvis’s high collars weren’t just a fashion statement. In Lisa Thompson’s 2016 memoir A Little Thing Called Life his ex-girlfriend detailed how Elvis was insecure about having “a skinny little chicken neck” ever since his parents had teased him about it as a child.
9. He was given a federal narcotics badge from President Nixon
In 1970, Elvis suddenly wrote to President Nixon and asked to meet him. The offer was granted, and during his visit Presley requested a “narc badge” to allow him to report on hippies selling drugs. Bizarrely, Nixon gave him one, though ex-wife Priscilla suggests he wanted it for a very different purpose. “With the federal narcotics badge, he [believed he] could legally enter any country both wearing guns and carrying any drugs he wished,” she said.
8. His stillborn twin was buried in an unmarked grave
Elvis’s twin brother, Jesse, was delivered stillborn. And there was no funeral – his father simply put the body in a shoebox and buried it in an unmarked grave. This clearly haunted Elvis, because in later life he searched for his twin’s last resting place. But he never found it.
7. He had an extramarital affair with Joyce Bova
From 1969 to 1971 Elvis and his mistress Joyce Bova conducted an affair right under the nose of Priscilla, even sleeping together in the marital bed at one point. It all ended when she got pregnant. Knowing all about his hang-ups regarding motherhood, she had an abortion without telling him.
6. He once called up President Carter while stoned
Seven years after being given a narcotics badge from Nixon, Elvis tried demanding a favor from President Carter as well. Completely stoned, he called up the White House to ask for a pardon for a sheriff friend who was in legal trouble. This time, though, he didn’t get what he wanted.
5. He had a facelift at the age of 40
People have often wondered if Elvis went under the knife to try to preserve his looks. Linda Thompson can answer that question: he had a facelift, but only that, when he was 40. “That mini facelift was the extent of his plastic surgery,” she wrote in her book.
4. He was reportedly a sexual voyeur
Elvis biographer Joel Williamson had some creepy claims about the King in his book Elvis Presley: A Southern Life. He claimed that Elvis installed a two-way mirror in his and Priscilla’s home so he could bring couples home and secretly watch them having sex.
3. He physically abused Ginger Alden
Elvis showered his girlfriend Ginger Alden with gifts, including an engagement ring for a wedding that would never come, but he could also be abusive. As well as the bullet-in-the-headboard incident, he would fly into rages and hurl things at the wall. And once, he smacked her right in the ribcage.
2. He spoke in baby talk to his mother
Elvis was extremely close to his mom, Gladys. He even called her by pet names and spoke to her in baby talk long after he’d reached adulthood. Psychologists have speculated that Elvis’s dislike of having sex with mothers, even the mother of his own child, springs from his adoration of his own mom.
1. His marriage to Priscilla was controlling and abusive
In 2016, appearing on Loose Women, Priscilla spoke about her marriage. She explained that Elvis would pick out her clothes, choose the movies they watched, everything. “[I] lived his life,” she said. In her memoir, she also mentioned an incident where he forced himself on her. And yet, she seems to have never stopped loving him.